|USGS 7.5' Map:||Ironton, Telluride|
|County:||Ouray and San Miguel|
|Managed by:||Uncompahgre National Forest, Norwood Ranger District
Uncompahgre National Forest, Ouray Ranger District
|1150 Forest St., Norwood, CO 81423
2505 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401
|Summary:||Imogene Pass 4WD road crosses a saddle between Chicago Peak and Telluride Peak connecting Ouray with Telluride.
|Attractions:||Pass, Mining History, Scenic, Ledge Road|
|Agency - Closed Dec 1 to May 15.|
June - Late. Opening may be delayed by late snows
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close pass
|Jud Wiebe Trail FT5432 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding
Sheridan Crosscut Trail FT5871 - Hiking, Horseback riding
Richmond Trail FT6250 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding
Richmond Basin Trail FT6233 - ATV, Motorcycle, Mountain bike, Horseback riding, Hiking
|Camping:||Dispersed camp sites are at the north end of Imogene Pass near Camp Bird Mine, and near timberline in Imogene Basin.
|Base Camp:||This would be a good area to base camp. There is Ophir Pass and Black Bear Pass out of Telluride, and all the roads around Mount Sneffels west of Ouray.
|Fall Colors:||Poor - Most of the road is above timberline.
|Navigation:||From Ouray, CO head south on US-550 S/3rd St/Main Street for 0.6 miles. Turn right onto Camp Bird Road and go 4.7 miles. Slight right onto County Road 26 and go 1.3 miles. Turn left and cross the creek. This is the start of Imogene Pass road.
From Colorado Avenue in Telluride, CO head north on N Aspen Street toward W Columbia Avenue for 0.1 miles. Turn right onto W Galena Avenue and go 308 feet. Turn left at the 1st cross street onto N Oak Street and go 299 feet. North Oak Street turns right and becomes Tomboy Road go 0.3 miles and stay right. This is the start of the Imogene Pass road.
|History:||Imogene Pass is named after the wife of Andy Richardson, a partner of Tom Walsh who owned the Camp Bird Mine. The road over the pass was built in 1870 to transport ore from the Tomboy Mine in Savage Basin down to Ouray. By the late 1890s power transmission lines also crossed the pass between the Ames Alternating Current (AC) power plant, near Telluride, to the Camp Bird mine and then on to Ouray. This was the First commercial use of AC power.
The Smuggler-Union mine sat below the Tomboy Mine complex in Savage Basin along the Imogene Pass road. The Smuggler was first discovered in 1875, but due to its remote location, ore did not ship until 1881. This was the first ore discoverd in San Miguel County. The mining town of Smuggler was incorporated in 1895.
For details and old photos visit the Western Mining History site for the Smuggler Mine.
The Tomboy Mine complex sits in Savage Basin above Telluride. The Tomboy mine and Savage Basin Camp contained a school, store, stable, and the miner's cabins. The Tomboy started producing quantities of gold ore in 1894 and in 1897 the mine was sold for $2 million. A daily stage ran across the Tomboy shelf road (Imogene Pass road) carrying passengers and mail. The mine was abandoned in 1928.
For details and old photos visit the Western Mining History site for the Tomboy Mine.
Tom Walsh was searching for flux for his Silverton smelter when he discovered the Camp Bird mine at the head of Imogene Basin. A mill was built at the mine site, later replaced by a much larger mill two miles below the mine where Imogene Creek connects with Sneffels Creek. The mine was connected to the mill with an aerial tram, which was later replaced with a two mile tunnel driven from the mill to the ore under the original mine. The large Camp Bird Mine complex around the mill included a huge boarding house for the 400 miners. The boarding house had steam heat, electric lights, hot and cold running water, fire protection devices, porcelain bath tubs, and a reading room and pool table. The mine porduced $5,000 to $6,000 in profits each day for Walsh. In 1902 Walsh sold the Camp Bird Mine to a British syndicate for $5.2 million. From 1902 to 1916 the British owners produced $23 million in ore, $16 million being profit. The mine closed in the late 1970s having made over $50 million during its ninety years.
For details and old photos visit the Western Mining History site for the Camp Bird Mine.
Fort Peabody, named after the Governor of Colorado, was built on the pass in 1903. This small rock structure served the state militia, who had been called in during this time to keep the peace in the area during miners strikes. As the mining in the area started to dry up, the pass fell into disrepair. In 1966 the local 4WD clubs worked to make the route passable again. Since that time Imogene has become one of the main 4WD passes in Colorado.
Helmuth, Ed & Gloria The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, ISBN 0-87108-841-X, 1994. Print.
Smith, P. David The Road that Silver Built, The Million Dollar Highway Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing Company, ISBN 978-932738-80-3, 2009. Print.
|Starting from Telluride, the Imogene (pronounced eye-mo-gene) Pass road, also called the Tomboy Road, heads up the mountain side north of town. The road starts at the end of North Oak Street where your turn right onto a gravel road passing some private homes. The road will continue past more homes, then come to an intersection with the Liberty Bell Road to the left and a driveway to the right. Past this intersection the road will remain graded as it passes through aspen groves and a few pine trees. As you cross the short Owl Gulch you will come to the next intersection with a road to the right to a private parking area. Stay to the left. Next you will come to the first of two hairpin turns that will switchback up the side of Mendato Peak. After the second hairpin turn you will pass a wide spot in the road which is the trailhead for the Sheridan Cutoff Trail. The road will now head into some larger aspen groves as it continues its climb into Royer Gulch.
The road will loop around the steep sided gulch crossing sections of road that have been built up to fill gaps along the cliff face.
This ledge road section will continue up and around Royer Gulch as it climbs around a ridge. Just after coming around the ridge top you will pass through a short tunnel.
The road will now head around Marshall Basin through the pine forest. The forest will thin out and you will come to a road to the right that drops down to a large flat area. This is the Smuggler-Union Mine site.
Continuing on the Imogene Pass road you will cross a bridge over Marshall Creek and then climb along the mountain side following Savage Creek. Just past the bridge over Savage creek you will enter the large complex that was the Tomboy Mine. There a many spur roads in this area, but the main road heads up the basin passing many old foundations for the mine buildings.
After passing the remains of a large building you will climb a short switchback and then come into the alpine tundra. Here there are quite a few braided sections to navigate. Try to stay with the main road. Most braids lead back to the main road with a few being spurs to tailing piles. As you climb above the tundra into just baren rock you will come to a long switchback the will make the final climb to Imogene Pass.
Starting down the north side of the pass you will come to a right spur that climbs a hill to an overlook of Guston and the mines at the foot of Red Mountain. There is also an old road bed you can hike over to Ptarmigan Lake. Staying left you will come to some rocky steps and two short switchbacks that will take you down into the head of Imogene Basin. Below the switchback will be a section of braided road that contains multiple rock ledges and rock outcrops to drive, of differing difficulty. You should be able to find a bit of challenge in this area to your liking. Past the outcrops, the road will cross a wide rolling tundra toward the lip of the upper basin. As the road heads over the edge of the upper basin you will drive the ledge section.
This use to be narrower that today, with a rocky section in the middle. The ledge road will do a switchback and pass a large parking area on a flat outcrop to the left of the road. The road will now drop down six long switchbacks toward timberline. In the valley below you will see the large rock flow off of Chicago Peak next to the tailing piles of the Camp Bird Level 3 mine.
At the fifth switchback you will pass a spur on the right that goes to a camp site among the first of the pine trees at timberline. All of the spur roads described next are on mine claims, and not on the Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Map. At the sixth switchback there will be a spur to the left that goes over toward the rock flow and some mine tailings. Further down the road is a spur to the right to a camp site. And then shortly beyond this is a spur on the left that climbs up the tailings pile and heads to the one remaining building of the Camp Bird Level 3 mine site. Here are the foundations of the first Camp Bird mill, as well as the tram station foundations.
The road will cross Imogene Creek and come to a T. The left road heads up to the Camp Bird Level 3 Mine, while the right heads down the valley over some large smooth rock outcrops. After a short distance you will drop down two switchbacks and come to the next Imogene Creek crossing. Here there is a bridge, or you can get your tires wet again. After crossing the creek a road goes to the right, FR869.1A, up into Richmond Basin for about a mile. Above timberline it will end and become a motorcycle trail, FT233. The main road will turn left and follow the creek down the valley. The trees will get thicker and you will cross the top of the tailings from the Yellow Rose Mine. Below here the creek drops down a gradual set of rocks making a long slow cascade of a water fall. As you come into a more open area there will be a spur to the left that goes a short distance back to the water fall. Just past this spur you will cross Imogene Creek again. Past the crossing the road will get a bit rocky and narrow up with the creek.
You will continue down the valley crossing another large smooth rock outcrop and head toward a section of road that crosses a large talus slope. Just as you get to the trees there will be a Y in the road. The right heads down into the remains of the large Camp Bird Level 14 site, passing a few of the remaining buildings. The left heads along a flat area on the slope of United States Peak following Sneffels Creek to the northwest. The road will follow some power lines through the forest. You will have some water holes and small rocks to navigate. Once you reach a large rock outcrop crossing the road you are near the end. At the top of the rock outcrop is a spur to the left, Silver Basin FR869.3A, which goes up into Silver Basin passing a mine tailing and two small lakes. Along here are a few dispersed camp sites. Stay to the right and you will come to a bridge crossing Sneffels Creek. After crossing Sneffels Creek, there is a small parking area before you connect with the Camp Bird road. Turn right to head back to Ouray, a left will take you to Governor Basin, Yankee Boy Basin, and Mount Sneffels.
|Data updated - November 29, 2020 4WD Road driven - July 21, 2020 Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2021|